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  • Jacob Sweetman: Interminable internationals


Jacob Sweetman: Interminable internationals

Another weekend where the football is interrupted by the endless grind towards the European Championships. This week it is Turkey who get to play whipping boys to the relentless German team, and I'm wondering if I can be bothered at all.

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Photo by Jérôme (Wikimedia CC)

It’s barely a quarter of the way through the football season and yet again this weekend everything has to go on hold for another interminable international break. Another round of meaningless qualifiers for the right to beat England in the quarter finals of the European Championships next year in Poland and Ukraine. Another chance to beat up the poor kid from next door.

On Friday evening Germany will face Turkey in Istanbul. It’s huge for the Turks, a chance to cement second place in the group and, with that, the play-off spot that they hope will see them through. But for Germany it will be another stroll in the park. Mario Gomez will score seven off his arse, a couple falling over backwards and one where he actually kicks the ball the wrong way and it will still somehow cannon into the goal. Mario Götze will skip merrily through their defence all the time wishing that it was like this in the Champions League, where those nasty boys are lurking around every corner.

Last year, in the home fixture in berlin, Germany were so clearly better, the only thing worth remarking on the game was the atmosphere – a roaring, whistling cauldron of noise created by the thousands of berlin Turks that were there. It was fantastic. Although the game itself didn’t exactly match the exorbitant price I paid a tout for a ticket.

It’s a shame that it has come to this, but in qualifying for these championships the competition has evaporated away like an open bottle of amyl nitrate. Leaving just a dull headache and the sense that something happened. But not much. Germany is streets ahead of the opposition and is simply biding their time until they get a chance to play against the big boys.

And August’s friendly against Brazil doesn’t count, by the way. Brazil will play anyone; they are the biggest sluts in football. Their contract with Nike specifies that they must go and flog themselves around every two bit stadium in Europe playing against anybody who will turn up. It is only a matter of time before Ricardo Teixeira gets confused and the whole team end up at Silvio Berlusconi’s pad for a night of furtive glances and missed opportunities.

I sincerely hope that Turkey make it to the finals. They were a total joy three years ago in the European Championships, and Berlin rocked for every minute of their ridiculous tournament. With Guus Hiddink in charge as well, you know that they are only a dodgy penalty them away from a major upset. But maybe that’s just the talk of an Englishman trying to convince himself that Germany are dull and calculating – not the swashbuckling, free-flowing side of Götze and Özil. The side that is brushing aside all comers with a style that could next year maybe even reach the level of the mythical 1972 European Champions.

It is still boring, though. The football season started ludicrously early and yet it’s still full of these gaps. These weekends where one tries to convince oneself that there is a reason to watch Germany against Turkey. Or England against Montenegro for that matter. But it’s hard. Maybe I’ll find something better to do with my life. Maybe I’ll go outside, or take up knitting.

But then again… there’s this great boozer near my house that gives out a free Kuemmerling for every goal Germany scores. I hope it will be a sackful. That could get me back into the international breaks.